Last week, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff said in US News that the No. 1 skill for weight management is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on with it. No doubt, this is absolutely a critical piece, but in order to be resilient, kindness toward yourself helps you remember that it’s not about the food.
We focus on the food that we eat, why we shouldn’t eat the food and what is wrong with us for overeating, but offering yourself kindness after overeating brings the focus back to what will help you get back on track. Kindness is what really makes a difference when it comes to weight management.
We use obsessing about food, counting calories, and exercising to burn calories as a way to beat ourselves up again and again. What we say to ourselves, how we feed ourselves, and what kindnesses we offer ourselves after “eating out of control” create a fork in the road where we can go down the path of despair and self-loathing or the path of accepting that it is what it is and moving on.
The more you focus on the food and what was wrong with it or you, the more likely to eat out of rebellion, or look to numb your feelings because of the self criticism.
First, you need to respect reality. The fact is, life happens. If you don’t respect the fact that as a species we have comforted and celebrated with food since time immemorial, then the inevitable guilt, shame and frustration you’re going to feel when you exercise your right as a human being to use food for purposes other than fuel may well lead you to throw in the towel.
Second, you need to like the life you’re living while you’re losing. This truism is perhaps the one most regularly forgotten by newly minted dieters. Ultimately, if you don’t like the life you’re living while you’re losing, even if you lose a great deal, you’re eventually going to head back toward the life you led before you lost weight.
In addition to Freedman’s advice, there are 3 steps we recommend for offering kindness to yourself after overeating, so you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off.
1. Move from judgment to observation:
Review what happened. What were my triggers or stressors? What can I learn from this?
2. Move from scary stories (or self bullying) to non-freak-out self talk.
Reduce scary stories like “OMG, I am going to gain 900 lbs” or “I have to work out like a fiend” to “I use food as fuel mostly, but overeating sometimes is part of life for everyone.”
3. Stop focusing on the bad, and start looking for what feels good.
Focus on what feels good or tastes good, not just what you are doing wrong. Pleasure is the gift our body has to give us in so many venues. Add pleasure to each day so food isn’t your only option to feel like you are getting something for yourself.
Read more from Green Mountain about other important skills for kickstarting and keeping your healthy weight. And let us know if you think there is a different #1 skill for weight management.
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